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Can I Go to Jail for Something I Did Years Ago in Wisconsin?

If you committed a crime many years ago in Wisconsin, you might wonder whether you can still be prosecuted. The laws governing the deadlines for prosecutions, known as statutes of limitations, vary from state to state. Even within Wisconsin, the limitation period varies according to the type of crime. Here is what you need to know about Wisconsin’s statutes of limitations.

Statutes of Limitations for Crimes in Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations for criminal offenses varies depending on the severity of the crime. Here are the general guidelines:

Misdemeanors

For misdemeanor offenses in Wisconsin, the limitation period is generally three years from the date of the alleged crime.

Felonies

The statute of limitations for felonies in Wisconsin depends on the specific offense:

  • First-degree intentional or reckless homicide, felony murder, second-degree intentional homicide, and first-degree sexual assault have no statute of limitations. Attempted first- and second-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree sexual assault may also be prosecuted at any time.
  • Second-degree reckless homicide has a limitation period of 15 years, which can be extended by up to one year if DNA evidence identifies a likely perpetrator.
  • Second- and third-degree sexual assault have 10-year limitation periods, which can be extended by up to one year if DNA evidence identifies a probable perpetrator.
  • Most other felonies have six-year limitation periods, which can be extended by up to one year if DNA evidence identifies a likely perpetrator.

 

Crimes Where a Child Is a Victim

Wisconsin has special provisions for crimes involving child victims:

  • Attempted or committed first-degree sexual assault and repeated sexual assault of the same child have no statute of limitations.
  • Several other serious offenses against children, such as second-degree sexual assault, sexual exploitation, and incest, have a limitation period that extends until the victim reaches the age of 45, or up to one year after DNA evidence identifies a likely perpetrator, whichever is later.
  • Other offenses against children, such as reckless physical abuse or providing illegal drugs to a child, have a limitation period that extends until the victim turns 26, or up to one year after DNA evidence identifies a probable perpetrator, whichever is later.

 

What Is Tolling?

Tolling refers to the suspension of the statute of limitations under certain circumstances. In Wisconsin, the statute of limitations is tolled when the alleged perpetrator is not publicly residing within the state or when a prosecution for the crime is pending. This means that the clock on the statute of limitations pauses during these periods and resumes once the individual returns to the state or the pending prosecution concludes. Tolling prevents criminals from evading prosecution by simply fleeing the state or hiding until the statute of limitations expires.

 

Contact a Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorney Today

 

If you are facing charges for a criminal offense in Wisconsin, or if you believe prosecutors might soon bring charges against you, it is crucial to secure the assistance of an experienced legal professional. The seasoned attorneys at Nicholson Goetz & Otis, S.C., have handled thousands of criminal cases, and our lawyers are in Wisconsin’s courtrooms every day. When your liberty and future are at stake, let us give you the support and advocacy you need at this critical time. Call us today or contact us online for a confidential consultation.

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